Chuck Berry vs. The Beach Boys


A great number of music’s most esteemed lot — from Keith Richards to John Lennon — have claimed to owe a huge debt to Chuck Berry. After all, in addition to being the rock era’s original singer/songwriter, the man practically invented rock n’ roll guitar. Few of the 1960s flock he influenced were so blatant in imitating Berry’s style as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, however, who initially held the sole songwriting credit on “Surfin’ USA”. Turns out, the song borrows substantially from the melody, meter and even the “it’s spreading ’round the land”, locale-dropping ethos of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen”. Berry responded with legal action, and suffice it to say, “Surfin USA” is now credited to Berry/Wilson. Stay tuned for more — believe it or not, this isn’t the only instance where the Beach Boys appropriated Chuck Berry’s material.

Chuck Berry - "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1958)
The Beach Boys - "Surfin' USA" (1963)

See also:
Louis Jordan vs. Chuck Berry vs. The Beach Boys

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